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Monday, June 4, 2012

Kiloh Smith - IPB Interview


IPB:  When and where were you born and was music a big thing in the Smith household?

I was born in Missouri. I don't remember music being particularly important in our household but I remember it being very interesting to me. I played my parent's Hank Williams albums and I remember listening to Pete Seeger, Dylan and the Beatles with my older sister. There was definitely music that I liked and music that I didn't like.

IPB:  Were you immediately attracted to psychedelic music or did your interests evolve in that direction?

I always liked psychedelic music. As a child, I sat with my sister in her room and listened to Revolver and Dylan. I remember liking the lyrics because they conjured up images in my young head. As a child, music that I liked did this for me. Later, when I was in school the Beatles' red and blue albums came out and were very popular. I much, much preferred the blue album over the red.

Shortly after that, I began hanging around with this kid named Jimmy Greenwood. He had permissive parents and an older sister like me. At that time his sister had moved out and so we hung out in her old room. She had a stereo up there and about four milk crates of LP's. Jimmy and I began listening to a steady diet of Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence and lots more...

IPB:  Kiloh, how does a New Yorker residing in AZ come to own and moderate a music blog dedicated to Texas psychedelic rock?

I grew up in the Hudson Valley, New York and, after I turned 18, moved to Ulster County like so many youth. Ulster County was the bohemian area of the Hudson Valley. Woodstock was there and so was New Paltz. New Paltz was more like what you might imagine "Woodstock" to be than Woodstock was.

Ulster County was what I would call Deadland. Everybody was into San Francisco psychedelic rock and Jorma and Jack Cassidy lived outside Woodstock. Ritchie Havens was a resident and the Band all lived in Woodstock. At that time, Ulster County was like a time warp where everything stopped around 1971. A LOT of, shall we say, seeking people moved up to Ulster and Sullivan (site of the '69 festival) Counties in the Sixties and Seventies. The whole scene revolved around the Back to the Earth Philosophy of the late Sixties. The (unofficial) Ulster County saying was "Peace, Pot and Microdot".

At the same time period, the Punk Revolution was happening. I had a bunch of friends who went to Poughkeepsie High School and they turned me on to Lou Reed, Iggy and Nuggets. I started taking it back to the Velvet Underground and saw that they were one of the first psychedelic bands. I began collecting VU boots in earnest.

Another area of interest was the Universe of Frank Zappa. I began collecting Zappa albums and boots. Beefheart wasn't far behind.  In the middle Eighties I was trading tapes with a fellow named Steve Czapala. We traded a LOT of Velvet Underground, Zappa, Syd Barrett stuff. He began telling me about Texas Psych and the 'Elevators. Pretty soon, I had the KAZZ Broadcast and rips of the Doug Hanners LP's. Coming into the late Nineties it was the very beginning of the, so called, Social Networking Revolution. At that time it was Yahoo who was at the forefront of things with their Yahoogroups. I was working up in Ithaca in 1998 and, during a lull in work, started the first Roky Erickson Yahoogroup. It was off to the races after that.

IPB:  Kiloh, when did the original Texas Psych Group begin officially?

The first "Texas Psych Group" was the original Roky Erickson Yahoogroup started in the Spring of 1998. This group ran, balls-to-the-wall, for two years until the Spring of 2001. This was the group that invented the Roky CD Club and put out all of the early, and important, volumes. This was the group that saw Roky Erickson paid for his recorded work. Our payments were some of THE first payments to Roky for recorded work. Many of the original Charter Members of that group are still with us today in the form of the Texas Psych Google and Facebook Groups.

I was working with a client up in Ithaca, New York and stumbled onto Yahoogroups. Yahoogroups were some of the first social networking places provided by a major player like Yahoo or Google; Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were years away still. Yahoogroups represented a major step up from the old BBS bulletin boards and the old "alt" Google groups which were just BBS channeled through Google. Even today, I think that some of the features on Yahoogroups are the best for these online clubs.

As I said earlier, the original Roky Erickson Yahoogroup was THE first Texas Psych anything kind of club on the Internet. Anyway, we had a few years where everybody got along good together and we did great things; not the least of which we put out many volumes of great music and saw to it that Roky Erickson was paid for this. You'll have to ask me a question about the specific workings of the Roky CD Club.

What happened to the original Roky group was egos and greed came into play. Two characters named Patrick "the Lama" and Craig M. decided that I had a pretty good idea in starting that Roky group. Only they didn't want to do all of the work that I put into getting the Roky group up and running strong. So what they did was conspire together and hatch a REALLY GOOD plan. You must remember that these are two people with not too many of their own ideas who go about in life seeking somebody else's shoulders to stand on.

So Lama started his "secret" 13th Floor Elevators group and Craig M. started his Texas Music Refuge group. Then what they both did was steal the Membership List of my Roky Erickson Group and use it to get their groups off to a good start. The Roky Group Membership list was public at that time. This was back in the days when I trusted people more. As far as I know, both groups are still in existence today.

Also in the original Roky Group were two unsavory characters that came to be known as Billy Alienate and Craig Lurkin. Billy was Roky's electric autoharp player in the Aliens and Lurkin was Roky's former Manager. Both were/are a couple of "pieces of work" who, at the time, were involved in a lawsuit against the original Roky Erickson Trust that had Roky receiving ZERO money from his recorded legacy. As Roky was too sick to gig anymore, he was reduced to living in a rented room off the highway above a porn store with Social Security as his only source of income.

Both Billy and Lurkin were aghast at the goings on over at the Roky CD Club. Lurkin was too much of a punk bitch to actually speak up and so he had his sycophant, Billy, do his talking for him. Billy thought this was just dandy and was always saying things like: "Craig wants *this*" or "Craig would like *that* or Craig wants you to stop doing *the other thing*. They didn't want us making art for the CD's; they didn't want us paying Roky without paying them; they didn't want us distributing the CD's so much... It became apparent that they "didn't want" us running the Roky CD Club on any level.

I spoke to the original attorney on the Roky Trust - Rick Triplett and he told me that he would just tell Billy and Lurkin to "go fuck themselves". And that's exactly what I did; only I did it publicly and tossed both those losers out of the group on their asses in front of everybody. And I was exactly right to do that with the entire time passing since then demonstrating that I was 100% correct.


Me tossing Billy and Lurkin out of the group was the spark that seemed to cause the original group to fly apart. See... Patrick Lama and Craig M. thought that Billy and Lurkin were just fine in their book. So they took Billy and Lurkin, and as many people as they could invite away from my group secretly and behind my back and split. And it was good riddance.

But Billy and Lurkin weren't done with the original Roky Group. They complained to Yahoo that we were "hosting" photographic images that they held the right to on our group. It was a crock of shit but Yahoo shut the group down anyway. We lost years of archived posts and recollections by people who were there.

So I started the Texas Psych Yahoogroup and that ran balls-to-the-wall for another five years until Billy and Lurkin tried the same thing with that group and Yahoo shut us down again. By this time we were fed up with Yahoo and moved the group over onto the new Google Groups. This was still years before MySpace and Facebook. We have been over on Google ever since and now on Facebook too. Lurkin and Billy have tried the same shit over on the group and the Texas Psych Blog but Google doesn't give them the time of day. So we're still rocking away.

IPB:  How many founding members were there and how many members are there now?

There were about 65 Founding Members. Today there are approximately 1,600 in the Texas Psych Google group and 600 in the Texas Psych Facebook Group.

See the groups here:

Texas Psych Google Group:

Texas Psych Facebook Group:

IPB:  When, how and why did the Roky CD Fan Club come into being?   Where did the source tapes come from and who compiled them?

Well... The first Roky Erickson Yahoogroup saw everybody meeting up and getting to know each other in. I had been trading Roky Erickson tapes for almost 15 years by the year 2000. This was the dawn of being able to burn CD's on the home computer and the dawn of powerful sound-editing software packages.

So... I had all these tapes and somebody had obtained a copy of Soundforge which was THE most powerful sound-editing program at the time. And so the idea came into being of ripping some of my tapes to the hard drive and cleaning them up with Soundforge. Of course, we would share the result with the group because that's how I roll and that's how the other people involved in this rolled.

But... We DID NOT want to be accused of ripping Roky Erickson off; his story, and the dire circumstances that he was living in at the time, were well known to us. We had read in High Times that a Roky Erickson Trust had been set up and the name Rick Triplet was mentioned as Roky's pro bono attorney. I contacted Rick Triplet and told him about the whole idea. His first question was: "How does this benefit Roky?" Together, we came up with the idea of a "gift" that would be collected for each CD distributed. The original amount for the "gift" was $2.00 which Rick and I thought might represent Roky's portion of a CD sold under his name by a record label. Now, in hindsight, some can say that we should have done *this*, *that* or *the other thing* but Rick and I were making this shit up as we went along; this was entirely new territory. We did our best and I want it known that the whole idea of compensation behind the Roky CD Club was thought up with Roky's Attorney in the mix.

Now, why did we have to call the monies we collected and paid to Roky a "gift"? That was because Roky's former Manager, Craig Lurkin, aided by his sycophant, Billy Alienate, were claiming ownership of Roky's entire solo career catalog; the right to the songs, the titles, everything. Apparently, they had some sort of paperwork that Roky signed. Triplet and the Roky Trust were challenging all of these sham "contracts" on the basis that Roky Erickson was disabled with mental illness at the time that he signed them, that he did not receive proper legal representation, that his Power-of-Attorney Guardian at the time was not able to review the "contract" and sign on Roky's behalf, and that the "contract" was an out-and-out effort to rob Roky Erickson of his legacy. We had to call the CD Club monies a "gift" because EVERYTHING was tied up in a big legal battle. At the time, all monies from Roky's catalog sales were going into an escrow account to be distributed when the settlement came or the Court decided.

So... We began taking my cassette bootleg tapes of Roky Erickson live and ripping them to digital. Then that signal was tweaked with Soundforge which is a very, very powerful sound editing program. We removed hiss and tweaked the sound. As this was before the torrent sites we started a Tree & Leaf distribution network for each title as it came out. People were instructed to contact *this* email if they could Branch a title; they were instructed to contact *that* email if they wanted a copy but couldn't Branch for somebody else (a Leaf). All of the Leaf emails were collected and then divvied up among the Branches. Then the Trunk made a copy of the disc(s) for all the Branches and collected Roky's gift from them. Then the Branches made copies for all their Leaves and collected Roky's gift and submitted the monies to the Trunk. The Trunk then mailed the total monies to Rick Triplet.

This worked GREAT for a long time. Additionally, new software programs and patches came out that enabled us to manipulate the sound more. Graphic Designers stepped forward and began producing artwork for the CD titles. This artwork then became one of the files that went with the music. The person obtaining the music could print out professional looking CD art from the file.

I have letters from Mrs. Erickson thanking us for helping her son and keeping his name alive. I know, for a fact, that the monies that we raised went to Roky in the form of cash for "walking around" dough. Rick Triplet told me that this was extremely helpful. We distributed 100 discs, then 200, then 300+ for each distribution; all the while collecting $2.00 per disc and mailing it to the Roky Trust.

The first 13th Floor Elevators disc that we produced was an "alternate mix" of Psychedelic Sounds utilizing the Contact Session and some alternate takes removed from the Doug Hanners LP's and Epitaph for a Legend. This was a big hit.

Needless to say, Lurkin and Billy were aghast at the workings of the Roky CD Club. These are little, little men who seek control over people, places and things. Basically, they were exercising a "throttle approach" to the situation with Roky and his Estate. They tiled up all of Roky's income from his recorded work in obtuse court battles. At the time, Roky was too ill to perform so monies from his recorded legacy were all he had other than Social Security. I think that the idea was to "throttle" Roky until he agreed to some unfair "settlement". See... Lurkin and Billy were not disabled and unable to work so they continued to work their jobs waiting for Roky to scream and give up the fight. This idea of another source of income coming from "gifts" from the fans was something new and unheard up. It gave Triplet a powerful bargaining chip because Lurkin and Billy didn't really know HOW MUCH money Roky was getting. They freaked out.

After we had been going awhile, people began stepping up with tapes of their own. We obtained a low-generation soundboard copy of the Avalon '66 boot. Patrick Lama gave this to us; somehow, he obtained a better quality tape than was around on the boots. We put this through our treatments and everybody was amazed. Our Engineers were, and are, good at letting the recording "speak" to them and using the appropriate software package or plug-in to optimize it.

We started doing other cool things like interviewing people like George Kinney, Clementine Hall, Danny Thomas, Powell St. John and burning these interviews to disc for the fans. We even had the fans submit their questions to be asked. We also assembled tons of Roky Erickson interviews and burned from tape the Stacy Sutherland along with the Ronnie Leatherman and John Ike Walton interviews. Let's not forget the Tommy Hall interview too. All of this material was burned to disc and let out to the fans. It became a treasure trove of information for people writing books and articles.

And shit just ran like that for over 13 years. People have kept stepping forward with rare recordings for us to put out because they KNOW that we are a not-for-profit thing. They KNOW that we care about how the finished product will sound. They KNOW that we will keep their identity secret.

But the biggest score was finding the Lost Craig Lurkin Archive a few years ago. See... Lurkin recorded everything that Roky did from shortly after he got out of Rusk to *around* 1982. That's almost ten years of gigs and studio sessions. We believe that Lurkin lost his Archive over the last decades. He has nothing but his phony piece of paper saying that he "owns" all the publishing rights to these songs and all the masters. Let me repeat, it is our belief that he has lost the master tapes.

But... In a shed in South Austin lies cassette copies of the entire Lurkin Archive. *Somebody* with them at the time copied EVERYTHING to cassette. There are even some reel-to-reel tapes. It's about a 100 tapes of PRIMO ROKY that has never been heard before. This is the Lost Dutchman Mine of Rokydom. We are now in possession of the Lost Lurkin Archive. We have the whole thing ripped to digital and it's enough for about 10, 10 cd, box sets of unreleased Roky. And it's all coming out. We've put a bunch of it out already and LOTS MORE is coming. The owner of these tapes likes how the Roky CD Club rolls and he gave it all up for the fans.

People like to say that I "run" the Roky CD Club but I am merely the Face on the Box. The Roky CD Club is a loose affiliation of Sound Engineers, Graphic Designers, Collectors and your's truly all working together to produce the finest Roky Erickson and 13th Floor Elevators discs on the planet. My pal George Kinney once told me that the Roky CD Club did more to promote Roky Erickson then ANYTHING in the world including International Artists.

All of the discs are still available on torrent servers worldwide.

IPB: At last count I saw some 50 Roky Fan Club CD releases.  How many releases were there and are they still available?

There are 50 Roky/Elevators titles. If you count all the Golden Dawn stuff, the interviews and the stray stuff like Epitaph for a Legend and Parable Arable Land (mono) from the original vinyl the count might go to 70 volumes. Many of these volumes are 2 - 3 disc sets. It's a lot of material. Everything is available on torrent server still.

IPB:  Have you listened to the Elevators box sets and if so how do you feel about the sound quality of the tape sources used compared to those in possession of the CD Club?

About the Charly 'Elevators box set... Hmmmmm... First off, they do not have all the master tapes that they claimed to have. The only period of the 'Elevators that is fleshed out with new material from tapes is the Bull of the Woods time. Everything else is vinyl rips. Basically, Charly has the opportunity of a lifetime with this box and they screwed the pooch, badly. In essence, they put out about 1.5 CD's of new material but in a horrible compressed format. EVERYTHING on the other 8.5 CD's is available elsewhere in much better quality. THE POINT IS that you IMPROVE when you do a project like that. Psychedelic Sounds, Easter Everywhere, Bull of the Woods, the TAR stuff it all sounds like total shit on their box. Anyway Charly, thanks for the 1.5 discs of useful new stuff; even though it's fucked.

It's "fucked" because the sound quality of the discs is terrible. It is terrible because they compressed the signal. Check for yourself; put one of those discs into Sonic Solutions or Pro Tools. That wonderful dynamic range is gone in favor of a flat line where every signal on the disc is boosted. This isn't my opinion; you can see this for yourself and worse you can HEAR it for yourself. What Charly did was clip off the upper/lower *whatever* percentage of sound and then boost everything else to a flat line. This makes the whole recording much louder but KILLS that
wonderful dynamic range.

Like... the analog sound spectrum is a bell shaped curve and Charly/Paul Drama said: "We don't want that." They then eliminated the upper/lower 5% (or 2.5%) of the curve. This is the extreme upper and lower reaches of the sound spectrum. The idea behind this is that the dreaded HISS & DISTORTION lurks in these areas. It's a very ham-fisted attempt at noise reduction. So... these areas are eliminated and the hiss and distortion goes but so do whatever other sounds the 13th Floor Elevators put down in these reaches of the sound spectrum.

So then we have a bell curve with both ends chopped off. So Charly/Paul Drama then eliminated the "curve" altogether and made all the sounds in the spectrum *pretty much* the same volume. The bass might be at a different volume than the ringing guitar; the cymbals might be at a different volume as the singer. It's how International Artists MIXED the master recording and how it is meant to be heard. But Charly/Paul Drama did away with that and now we have a *uniform*/*standardized* sound. It's like that whole three dimensional aspect of the sound is just fucking GONE and you're listening to a two-dimensional sound. Or it's the difference between seeing a cow in real life and looking a movie of the same scene; one is three dimensional and one is two dimensional.

We're 100% certain that they used some of the stuff we released on the Roky CD Club. God forbid that they acknowledge it. And we're 100% certain that they SHOULD have used some in cases. For example, the Contact Session is a muddled, dropout-ridden, mess. I can't listen to those Charly reissues in the box. I am so glad that I passed on the box set.

The one interesting and worthwhile CD out of the whole bunch is the Alternate Bull of the Woods. They did a really good job there, except that they compressed the music to a total flat sound. Oh well, at least it's new stuff. I have really enjoyed that. Yeah, it's great that it's out but... couldn't they leave the knob twiddling alone? Yes, there is tape hiss on the original recording. I want to hear that because it insures that I am getting the full dynamic range.

But 8.5 discs of that boxed set are utterly useless to the fans and they sound like shit and detract from the band's legacy. The mono Easter? Charly ought to be whipped for putting that out! Michael and I think that they just took our Roky CD Club version of the same and just compressed it.

At the time Lama, Paul Drama and Charly were producing this box set the people at the Roky CD Club already had TEN YEARS producing the best sounding 13th Floor Elevators CD's in the world. They could have come to us for help but they chose to go it alone and, basically, you can hear the results. You can *hear* that they really didn't know what they were doing. It's a shame. I challenge anybody to compare the box set versions to the Roky CD Club versions of all the albums, the singles, the Avalon bootleg, the Texas Archive material, the Contact Session, compare it all. In every case our version stands head and shoulders above their version. And that's such a shame because THEY were the ones with the professional studio, access to material and whatnot. We were the ones doing everything on desktop applications.

What I just described in the above paragraph is what comprises 85% of the Charly box set; material that has been issued before in better quality. They really, really screwed the pooch. Maybe in the future somebody can go through the set and replace the inferior tracks with Roky CD Club stuff. Then we can expand it out a bit more and tree it out as the ULTIMATE BOX.


IPB:  Did the compilers of the 13th Floor Elevators box sets "Sign of the 3 Eyed Men" and "Sphere Music" inquire about source tapes the CD Club possessed for inclusion on the box sets?  If you were not approached would you speculate as to why not?

Mike Jensen:  Yes, at least one member was contacted directly. This person is in possession of several master recordings. Paul Drama was the person who Charly sent to do their business. The member agreed to allow access to the recordings in exchange for clean copies and, without relinquishing ownership of the source tapes. The member didn't request money, just clean copies of the rescued tapes from reel to reel with the intention of sharing these tapes with the Group. The answer was "No"! This person was contacted several times FROM THE STUDIO where the re-mastering was taking place by Paul Drama. The member offered to send all recordings except the reel to reels because of their fragility and, because, rightly so, he knew Paul Drama and company had pulled out of deals in the past. The tapes offered were reference tapes (Cassettes) from IA. He was turned down, flat! This member has been threatened with harm (anonymously) and with lawsuits. Another member was approached and, just threatened with bodily harm if he shared anything with the Roky CD Group.

Listening to the Box Set, we know at least these recordings were lifted directly from our CDs: Avalon Ballroom; Easter Everywhere in Mono and Stereo; Parts of Psychedelic Sounds in Mono (The studio out takes and chatter); The KAZZ Radio Broadcast. These have just been quickly re equalized and compressed. We know these recordings were sourced from us by doing comparisons between the recordings. The Box Set recordings and our releases have the same underlying "signatures". Even the compression cant hide the source.

IPB:  Have you listened to the Elevators box sets and if so how do you feel about the sound quality of the tape sources used compared to those in possession of the CD Club?

Mike Jensen:  Paul Drama admitted to the member he was strong-arming for tapes the fact they were in possession of at least some master source reels from Walt Andrus. He typed via e-mail, "Listening to Never Another takes 1 through 10 now". They could have done a better job, first off, with the transcriptions by leaving off the compression. But, besides this, the emails to this member of the group suggests Charly is in possession of more recordings or, they are just plain liars.

We do know of other tapes out there that have been heard by members of the Group. There is a Rough Mix IA cassette of Easter Everywhere in Mono. There is another demo tape that predates the Gordon Bynum sessions. There is a copy of the appearances on the Larry Kane Show. There is yet another mix of "Levitation" Plus, there are the reels from the Easter Everywhere sessions.

IPB: Kiloh please tell us about the Roky CD Club’s relationship with Roky’s current Management.

OK, but let’s segue into it. To recap, from 1999 – (about) 2004 the Roky CD Club set up shop with the help of the original Roky Trust. We did great things, releasing some of THE best Roky and ‘Elevators material to ever hit the street. We collected a lot of money for Roky in the form of donations. We even began buying Roky a Christmas present every year. All the members would chip in money and then I would go get something that I thought Roky would like. Once, I bought an epoxy painted sculpture of some half man, half wolf, demon guzzling blood from a human skull while he was fucking this gorgeous broad “doggy style”. It was like a total horror/fantasy thing and was painted real lurid and realistic. It was the kind of thing where they pour the epoxy into the mold and then paint it. It stood a few feet tall too. We sent that to Roky for Christmas one year. We got a letter back from Mrs. Erickson thanking us and then telling us to PLEASE go to church.

Around 2004, Roky’s brother, Sumnerd, began getting involved. We’ve all seen the film You’re Gonna Miss Me and so I don’t need to go over all that right? Annnnnyway, pretty soon Sumnerd is Head of the Roky Trust and guys like Rick Triplet and George Kinney get kicked off. To me, this was the dissolution of the original, and legitimate, Roky Erickson Trust.

So who does Sumnerd put on the Roky Trust in place of people like Rick Triplet and George Kinney? He makes Craig Lurkin and Billy Alienate Trustees! Then he puts Patrick Lama on or at least makes him Head of the website group. Another jerk-off, named Chris Meerbottom, was put on the Trust. Years ago, I took that guy, schooled him, and turned him loose. When the original group fractured Meerbottom went with Billy Alienate. Now this guy is on the Roky Erickson Trust along with the rest? It was a joke.

How did Sumnerd deal with us? All we did was want to work with him to help Roky. All he ever did was act aloof to us and treat us like adversaries. I’d like to also say that I don’t think Sumnerd is too bright or he’s somebody who is very, very easily fooled.

First Sumnerd told us that he wanted the Roky “gift” for trading the CD’s upped to $10.00 per disc. We discussed it and thought that demand absurd; after all it was our labor, our machines, our blank CD’s, our postage AND our music. What was the Trust actually contributing to get this done? As a compromise, we upped the gift to $3.00 per disc which represented a 50% increase.

Another thing about Sumnerd is that, once you “cross” him, your name is Mudd for all eternity. Basically, if you don’t bow down to him and do his little bidding ALL THE TIME, you are excommunicated from Sumnerd Universe. And what happened to Sumnerd is that he was this way towards everybody until there was no one for him to excommunicate; he had excommunicated everybody including his own brother Roky. In doing that Sumnerd excommunicated HIMSELF; everybody hates him now and he exists in Sumnerd Universe all by himself.

Annnnyway, for the time being, all the rats were in one sewer and had an air of legitimacy about them because the sewer was the Roky Trust. We tried everything to build bridges and mend fences with Sumnerd. He showed himself, again and again and again, to be a dim-witted tool. So we quit trying to deal with him and just put material out ourselves and didn’t bother to try and collect the gift anymore.

Sumnerd, along with the enthusiastic help of the Billy and Lurkin, did ALL KINDS of things. He dragged our names through the mud. He called us shameless bootleggers and thieves. He said that we were denying Roky an income from his recorded legacy. He talked all kinds of shit. While he was talking his shit, he left out the facts that the Roky CD Club was set up with the help of the original Roky Trust and Roky’s own attorney. He left out the fact that the two people responsible for denying Roky Erickson an income from his music now SAT on the Roky Trust. Fact and Truth and Reality have no bearing when Sumnerd gets running his mouth.

We began to notice that Sumnerd was treating his brother like the ghoul in the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Sumnerd could summon Roky on demand and then “poof” Roky was back under wraps after he made his appearance. If you crossed Sumnerd that meant that your precious “Roky Access” was cut off. Luckily, nobody on the Roky CD Club cared if we ever met Roky. We began to call the Sumnerd version of the Roky Trust the Roky Robbers Roost. Anyway, this shit went on for about three years until Sumnerd had alienated so many people that the whole world hated him. We kept putting out music.

One thing, supposedly, Sumnerd had made peace with Billy and Lurkin and so we waited for the floodgates to all the new Roky recordings to come. We had heard about the Fabled Craig Lurkin Archive. But nothing came out. Then some bullshit came out that sounded like it was recorded on a tape recorder sitting on a stool in a practice room. It was bullshit. That’s when we realized that Lurkin had nothing. He had lost everything *somewhere* in all those years. All he had were some pieces of paper and claims. What Lurkin did was try and get an income off SOMBODY ELSE putting out Roky material. He had Zippo lighter himself. He was a bloodsucker.

And… We are of the opinion that Sumnerd, being not too bright and a tool, 100% bought Lurkin’s line of shit and placed both him and Billy on the Roky Trust. Lurkin never brought anything of value to the table. All he had was his line of shit. So… We knew nothing was coming from him.

Annnyway, those three years were like the Wild West for the Roky CD Club. All of those guys are stooges who will never, ever, ever, ever, outsmart me about anything. We basically, just continued doing exactly what we wanted while laughing our asses off at Sumnerd and his crew. They provided us with LOTS of material to laugh at.

Then, around 2007ish, Roky wised up and took over his own life again. All those guys were expelled from “helping”. Sumnerd entered his isolation. Roky got professional Management. How does the Roky CD Club get along with them? We get along fine with Darren. In the works is an idea for a massive box set that combines all the best that they have with all the best that we have.

IPB: How did the Texas Psych Blog start?

Uhhhhhhh… I work in the SEO field and, around 2005, we began looking at blogging as a way to climb in the search engines. I was like: “Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…” So in the Spring of 2007 I started the Texas Psych Blog. Then I began expressing myself and unburdening my mind a bit.

Now? The Texas Psych Blog is THE Internet source for all things Texas Psych. We are Ranked on the first page of Google for all kinds of cool key phrases. That means that people are finding us. The Texas Psych Blog recently passed 200,000 hits. We now use the blog as our de-facto Internet presence and tie it into everything: the groups, the Roky CD Club announcements, more…

See the blog here:

We are always looking for Bloggers. If you want to blog on the Texas Psych blog then send an email here:

You need to have knowledge and/or passion for the subject and posses a Gmail account.

IPB: What is the reason for the division between fans of the 13th Floor Elevators?

I can answer that one because I lived it. Going back to when Roky was emerging as a solo artist (mid-Seventies), there was a group of people who surrounded him consisting of his band and Management and various hanger-ons that came to be known as the “California Group”. Billy Alienate is a Charter Member of the California Group even though he’s a Texan.

Basically, these were/are very unsavory people. I mean, look how they tied Roky up in farcical contracts for decades and claimed to own most of the Rights to his solo catalog. Look what effect that had on Roky; it had him living in a rented room, above a porn store, on Social Security. These mopes could have given a shit.

So you had the California Group which was pushing to “break” Roky as this horror/punk act all the while tying him further and further down with sham contracts. Then you had the Texas Group which was, basically, Roky’s Core Fan Base and people who loved him.

These two groups chaffed against each other for the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties without much effect. The California Group held all the rights to songs and tapes. They even had Roky for the Seventies and part of the Eighties. It was all a tempest in a teapot because the ‘Elevators hadn’t penetrated the mass consciousness yet and Roky’s moment hadn’t come; the time wasn’t ripe.

Then the first Roky Group started in the very late Nineties. People began networking among each other and meeting up with each other for the first time. For awhile, it was like having all these wayward travelers and castaways washing up on the door of the group. Then Billy Alienate joined and dragged Craig Lurkin in with him. That’s when the trouble started.

Billy LIVES to cause friction and paranoia among Roky’s fans. He also wishes to help his Master, Lurkin, maintain control of everything. That’s those guys’ shtick: control, control, control… After a bit of dealing with those two I threw both out of the group on their asses publicly. Unfortunately, there are those who are extremely attracted to the bullshit that Billy and Lurkin put down. They want to imagine that they are part of a “special” group. This group has strict rules and a hierarchy of membership. They all want to whisper about and NOT share stuff. For the life of me, I can’t understand it.

Annnnnyway, shortly after I kicked Billy and Lurkin out, Patrick Lama went off and started his secret 13th Floor Elevators group and Craig M. went off and started his Texas Music Refuge group. They did this by downloading my Membership List to the Roky Group and sending out a mass email. That’s the kind of sneaky shit that the California Group engages in. So… All the people who were impressed with Billy Alienate and his crowd went off and joined those two groups. In there, I guess they feel like they are in this special club. Both groups haven’t put out one minute of music in almost twelve years. The Lama group is “secret”. That’s so funny if it wasn’t so lame.

Things went on for several years; the Roky CD Club was putting out tons of music, until Sumnerd took over Roky’s care. What I think happened is that the California Group went to Sumnerd with their line of shit and he bought it. Pretty soon, the original (and legitimate) Roky Trust was disbanded and people like Rick Triplet and George Kinney kicked off. And, unbelievably, the Biggest Snakes of All – Billy and Lurkin, found themselves as Trustees on the Roky Erickson Trust! And they played it for all that it was worth for as long as they could. We never saw any real benefit to Roky; no music was released except for some sad shit that the Roky CD Club would never affix it’s name to.

Around 2007, Roky wised up and took over his own life. But the dichotomy was created among Roky’s fans. You have the people who think that Patrick Lama, Paul Drama, Billy Alienate and more are just fine and they want to aspire to be part of that “secret” group. These people do things like write books and “reference files” and the Credits in the back are just a list of their friends. All the while, people in the know, see that they lifted much of "their" material from the four volumes of Ortman Scrapbooks and the recorded interviews by the Roky CD Club. These are people who don’t accept help from the Roky CD Club when compiling their box set and then botched the job so badly that it’s pathetic. These are people whose own Linear Notes about the sources of the box set are lying to the fans. These are the people who bash the Roky CD Club as “bootleggers” and yet own EVERY SINGLE TITLE. These are the people who go around and have old timers give them photographs for their “research” and then RUN and copyright that same photograph under their name.

On the other side, or the other group, you have fans who love the music and those that internalized the ‘Elevators message. It isn’t a competition. It’s about the music and the Quest for Pure Sanity. The Quest for Pure Sanity is about being the best person that you can be. Luckily, this group greatly outnumbers the other group.

IPB: Are the 13th Floor Elevators relevant today?

Are you kidding me? They are more relevant today than back in the Sixties, and they are getting more and more relevant as time marches on. See... little did people know back in the day but the 'Elevators represented the way Rock music was going to evolve to. I firmly believe that the 13th Floor Elevators were the first modern rock band.

Through the lens of today, through revisionism, we can now see that bands like the 13th Floor Elevators, Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart were important and influential groups when looking at how Rock music turned out today. At the time they were around, it was a different story. The 'Elevators were one some regional label that went bust after a few years. For much of their short career, they were forbidden from performing outside the State of Texas. So, they were like a regional band. The Velvet Underground never got any airplay and, thanks to a disagreement with Bill Graham, they couldn't gig in San Francisco or their home town of Manhattan, New York. Beefheart's sixties career was just a haze of bad record deals and missed opportunities.

But today, all three bands are viewed as giants when seen through their influence on today's music. Additionally, all of the music known as "garage-psych" was and is extremely influential. This music existed on 45 rpm back when it was put out and it was also a flash-in-the-pan at that time. But later, people remembered it fondly and new fans discovered it and started their own bands. When the original Nuggets comp came out in 1972 it was on heavy rotation at Max's Kansas City in NYC. This was where the remnants of Andy Warhol's sixties scene hung out as well as the pimply-faced future members of the New York Dolls and the Ramones. It can be argued that the first Punk bands started to emulate that Nuggets / garage-psych sound. That trend continues to this day with Punk morphing into Alternative and that morphing into the Psych that's being played by bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Black Angels. The King of the Hill in this regard is the 13th Floor Elevators.

Of course, there was a powerful spiritual side to the 13th Floor Elevators that more and more people are hipping to. They might not have ever heard of the 13th Floor Elevators but society is catching up to what the 'Elevators were onto. I love the quote from Lelan Rogers in the Liner Notes of Epitaph for a Legend. He says that the 'Elevators were part of a "new wave". The band called it the Quest for Pure Sanity but it can also represent the West's Quest for Spiritual Enlightenment. In 1965, American Society was overwhelmingly white, Christian and conservative. Look at society today; the world is catching up with the 13th Floor Elevators.

Basically, the 'Elevators believed that man was at a crossroads in his evolution. To them, man could now conceive of his own consciousness. He could understand that he had a consciousness and that the body was merely the Host of it. They also believed, as many Eastern religions do, that there is an evolutionary process with the consciousness; or a "journey" over one's lifetime. So... once man could perceive his own consciousness, he could undertake the journey to Spiritual Enlightenment more effectively. Because THAT IS the ultimate goal of mankind. The 'Elevators believed that, as there was an evolutionary process that led to man's physical form, there was an evolutionary process in one's consciousness that happened over a lifetime; or across many lifetimes (reincarnation).

Now, a central theme to their belief system was that hallucinogenic drugs were a shortcut to achieving growth, or evolution, of one's consciousness. At that time this was a legitimate point of view and there was much scientific research into it AND these drugs were 100% legal. Again, in retrospect, because this central theme in their belief system was wrong and the research stopped and the drugs became criminalized does that make their vision any less compelling or the music any less fantastic?

I think that the 'Elevators' message is to be the best possible person that you can be while taking input from all sources. I don't think that they felt it necessary to adhere to any dogma but borrowed the Best and Brightest across a wide variety of sources. And isn't that what people are doing today? People practice yoga and tai chi, they meditate, they read spiritual books, and they are doing ALL KINDS of different things to feel better and grow spiritually; in effect, be the best person that they can be. But at the time the 'Elevators were espousing this philosophy it was so new that they were looked at as freaks and persecuted.

It was Tommy Hall's vision to take”Beatle-type" music and couple it with serious "Dylan-type" lyrics. And he was exactly correct to do that and that helped create modern rock music. Only Tommy's idea of "serious" lyrics had to do with the revolution that was going on in his perceptions of reality and thought processes. The late, great Jerry Lightfoot (who was there) once told me that Tommy used to take some LSD, or get smoked up, and then read some Gurdjieff and Ouspensky for inspiration. He would then write a psychedelic poem that him and Roky would put to chords. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky were two Twentieth Century Philosophers who were popular with the Psychedelic Generation. No room to explain them now. Maybe in another interview. Really, you should ask George Kinney about them and the Texas Psych connection.

You know, I read the 'Elevators' book by Paul Drama and in one chapter he breaks down the meaning of the song Slip Inside This House. He has Jesus, God, Shiva, Buddha, Tao, the Aztec Calendar, Gunga Din, Attila the Hun, Chairman Mao, Santa Claus, Woody Woodpecker, Linda Lovelace, the SECRET OF THE UNIVERSE and the best way to buy quality produce in there. I mean, he just crams it so FULL of all of this "meaning". I about laughed myself sick reading that! That guy just SO doesn't get it. He's seeking all of this "meaning" in the 'Elevators music that he has become confused. His treatise on that song is really an exercise in over-thinking something and good for humor purposes only.

IPB: What is the song Slip Inside This House about then?

That's easy; the "House" is a metaphor for the writer's new level of consciousness; or his progression on the Evolution of the Self during his lifetime. He's evangelizing his newfound state of being and telling people that they ought to ask him about it when they pass him by and see that there is something different about him.

The people, who wrote this song, and songs like it, always stressed that it was an "easy" and painless transformation. Why else use the "slip" in the song title. When you "slip" into something that that evoke something that was hard to do? Or as the 'Elevators sister-group, the Golden Dawn, said: "It's sooooooo easy!" in their song Starvation. "It's all so easy to do!" Does this sound like something "hard" to accomplish?

When you, the listener, are in the "House" with the writer of the song, you will be able to perceive all kinds of cool new things that you couldn't conceive of before. Then Tommy reels off all these psychedelic / spiritual images to demonstrate what your mind will be able to conceive of while in the House.

It's that easy, like they said. Paul really worked those lyrics for all that he could get but he missed the point of the song.

IPB:  Would you give our readers a list of what you consider the most essential Texas psychedelic rock recordings?

Sure, here goes:

13th Floor Elevators - Mono Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (Roky CD Club) - mono rip of unplayed IA LP with speed corrected Sump'n Else TV Show bits.

13th Floor Elevators - Attack of the 8-Tracks (Roky CD Club) - 8-track tape rips of all four 'Elevators albums. Three of the 8-tracks were unplayed previously. Great quality and totally different mixes than the LP. The Psychedelic Sounds is in actual stereo.

13th Floor Elevators - Attack of the LPs (Roky CD Club) - LP rips of pristine IA vinyl. De-clicked by hand. No "program" was run on this stuff. Outstanding quality, the best.

13th Floor Elevators - Avalon Live '66 (Roky CD Club) - best quality of the Avalon recording. Taken direct from a low gen tape.

13th Floor Elevators - Paradise Found (Roky CD Club) - "best of" CD. Contains tracks from the entire career of the 'Elevators. What's cool is the many of the versions are more uncommon, different mixes and 45 rpm versions. Outstanding quality.

13th Floor Elevators - High Baptismal Flow (Roky CD Club) - All the 'Elevators 45s grouped together along with sundry nuggets.

Golden Dawn - Power Plant (Roky CD Club) - LP rip of IA vinyl. Different mix than what is available on CD elsewhere. This is the original mix. Except for a few vinyl pops, the best quality.

George Kinney - 2002 Interview by Bill Stoughton at George's Home (Roky CD Club) - George tells all.

The Golden Dawn - 2002-07-27, Psychedelic Reunion, Rudyard's Pub, Houston, TX, (Roky CD Club) - Great reunion of the original band.

Join the Google Texas Psych Group!

1 comment:

Danny N. said...

This may sound like a stupid question, but I was wondering if you know anything about Tommy Halls bead. It seems with Tommy that everything had some kind of symbol to it and I was wondering the necklace had it too. It doesn't show in the picture, but I've seen a picture of the band during the Easter era where he had a bead, though his arms covered the main part of it.